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12-08

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1

Five to Watch: Fantasy-Relevant Winter Meetings Rumors
by
Ben Carsley

11-12

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3

Five to Watch: More Post-Hype Prospects for 2015
by
Ben Carsley

11-06

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5

Five to Watch: Post-Hype Prospects for 2015
by
Craig Goldstein

03-20

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10

Five to Watch: American League Post-Prospects
by
Ben Carsley

03-19

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4

Five to Watch: National League Post-Prospects
by
Craig Goldstein

03-18

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6

Five to Watch: National League Prospects
by
Bret Sayre

03-17

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6

Five to Watch: American League Prospects
by
Wilson Karaman

03-13

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5

Five to Watch: American League Hitters
by
Wilson Karaman

03-12

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10

Five to Watch: American League Starting Pitchers
by
Craig Goldstein

03-11

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6

Five to Watch: National League Hitters
by
Mauricio Rubio

03-10

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6

Five to Watch: National League Pitchers With Elevated BABIPs
by
Craig Goldstein

09-20

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5

Five to Watch: The Save Rush
by
Craig Goldstein

09-16

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8

Five to Watch: Hot Corner Conundrums
by
Ben Carsley

09-10

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0

Five to Watch: Injured NL Starting Pitchers
by
Craig Goldstein

09-06

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7

Five to Watch: Would-Be, Could-Be Closers
by
Craig Goldstein

08-28

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0

Five to Watch: September Call-Ups Unworthy of Your Immediate Attention
by
Ben Carsley

08-27

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12

Five to Watch: Positive Regression Candidates
by
Craig Goldstein

08-21

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7

Five to Watch: Good Prospects on Bad Teams
by
Ben Carsley

08-19

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4

Five to Watch: Post-Hype Prospects for 2014
by
Craig Goldstein

06-07

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10

Five to Watch: Checking in on the Holy Trinity
by
Bret Sayre

04-18

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3

Five to Watch: Contact Watch!
by
Bret Sayre

03-18

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4

Five to Watch: The Top Prospect Edition
by
Bret Sayre

03-13

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9

Five to Watch: Drawing Blanks
by
Josh Shepardson

02-22

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5

Five to Watch: National League Hitters
by
Bret Sayre

02-20

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4

Five to Watch: Impact Arms With Unclear Roles
by
Paul Sporer

02-15

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7

Five to Watch: American League Hitters
by
Bret Sayre

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September 16, 2013 6:00 am

Five to Watch: Hot Corner Conundrums

8

Ben Carsley

Ben wades through a handful of uncertain third-base situations to help fantasy owners plan for 2014.

Some would say that forecasting 2014 rosters in September 2013 is a fool’s errand. These people either a) don’t know fools, b) don’t run errands, or c) don’t play in dynasty leagues. For as any experienced owner knows, if you’re not already thinking about your keepers for 2014, you’re doing it wrong.

With that in mind, now is as good a time as any to take a look at five tenuous third-base situations around the league. While there are some potential future fantasy studs listed below, many of these youngsters face uncertain playing time and roster security headed into next year.

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September 10, 2013 6:00 am

Five to Watch: Injured NL Starting Pitchers

0

Craig Goldstein

These five hurlers missed most of the 2013 campaign with arm ailments, but they could be fantasy bargains next year.

If it wasn’t made clear in my first article on starting pitchers who were due for a bounce back, my view on starting pitching is that depth is everywhere. I mean, hell, I tried to make a case for Edinson Volquez as a viable option heading into next season (author’s note: I’m a dolt). Perhaps Volquez was the wrong option to hang my case on, but I selected him in an effort to prove a point. That point you ask?

The point is that starting pitching depth is just about everywhere. Don’t believe me? Check out this list of five NL starting pitchers who either haven’t pitched in 2013, or have only just returned recently. They range from “I’ve been waiting on him for a couple years” to “I legitimately forgot he existed even though he’s on my favorite team*.”

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September 6, 2013 6:00 am

Five to Watch: Would-Be, Could-Be Closers

7

Craig Goldstein

A look at five pitchers who could be in line for save opportunities in future years.

Joe Borowski, Brandon League, Todd Jones, Kevin Gregg, Frank Francisco, Billy Koch. No, I’m not working on a baseball version of We Didn’t Start The Fire (that you know of). These are all relievers who have ascended to the closer role, whether they deserved it or not. They acquired the closer mystique that allowed them to beef up their earnings and hold on or land jobs long past when they should have. To be clear, I’m of the mind that it’s often helpful to have a Gregg or a Koch at the back of the bullpen—someone who is competent enough to finish most games and allows the use of a more efficient or dominant reliever, a fireman, to enter into the higher-leverage situations.

That opinion belongs to the baseball analyst in me, though, not the fantasy analyst. As a fantasy owner, I’d rather see the most talented bullpen option in the closer role because then I don’t have to roster nincompoops who destroy my ERA and WHIP, all while chasing the dragon save. Of course, being blocked by an incompetent colleague is not the only reason that pitchers get denied coffee. Injuries, a couple of poorly timed blow ups, or a lack of experience can also cost a reliever a shot to use SemiSonic as his entrance music as well. The point of this article, then, is to shine a spotlight on some guys who would be closers, but for a minor flaw, be it in their game or their situations. These are players who could be elite-level fantasy closers if they are presented with the opportunity. The key is identifying them before the opportunity arises.

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August 28, 2013 6:48 am

Five to Watch: September Call-Ups Unworthy of Your Immediate Attention

0

Ben Carsley

These young players will look to make a strong impression on their big-league employers next month, but they're not likely to help your fantasy squad.

September call-ups, when used correctly, can make for great late -eason additions to fantasy squads. When used incorrectly, though, such players can do more harm than good—especially to your rate stats or to teams with short benches.

So while the majority of columns you read in the coming days will extol the fantasy virtues of the September call-up, this one will instead preach caution. With that in mind, here are four likely call-ups—and one recent call-up—you should let other owners fight over in the coming weeks.

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August 27, 2013 6:00 am

Five to Watch: Positive Regression Candidates

12

Craig Goldstein

A look at five scuffling pitchers whose luck might turn next year, and who could be fantasy bargains with better results.

When it comes to starting pitching, my philosophy has long been “it’s always available.” Even when it comes to deep/dynasty leagues where the talent is scarce, finding pitching depth isn’t as difficult as it might seem. With that in mind, we turn our spotlight to five pitchers who have struggled—to varying extents—in 2013, but who have the ability, history, and peripheral statistics to pique our interest. Note that, unsurprisingly, two of these pitchers appeared in the Starting Pitchers section of BP’s Mid-Season Outliers, which should be a good source if you’re looking for anyone beyond the five mentioned in this article.

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
It’s been a rough season for pitchers who have made a habit of outperforming their FIP, and Hellickson has been chief among those types. He’s also been chief among those having a rough season, including last night’s putrid performance (2 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). The interesting part though, is that unlike some of the others listed, Hellickson is actually producing better peripherals than he ever has, so instead of just relying on past performance, we can say that he’s actively getting better.


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August 21, 2013 6:00 am

Five to Watch: Good Prospects on Bad Teams

7

Ben Carsley

These five players' MLB clubs might not be going to the playoffs, but they could help your fantasy squad get there.

A good prospect is a terrible thing to waste, even if he plays for a bad team. This is a lesson sometimes lost on fantasy owners who will scramble to pick up the likes of Xander Bogaerts or Kolten Wong, but may overlook younger players who are stuck on squads mired near the bottom of the standings.

Yet, while you may need to pay a pretty penny or risk a high waiver claim on a flashy prospect from a first-place team, you can often find bargains by scouring your free agent pool for forgotten call-ups, rookies, or post-prospects on non-contenders. Maybe the casual baseball fan doesn’t care who’s hitting ninth for the Astros or holding down a rotation spot in Miami, but as a fantasy owner, you should. If used selectively, such players can provide significant boosts for owners in deeper leagues. With that in mind, here are five players most owners will have forgotten about who can help in select categories down the stretch.

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August 19, 2013 6:00 am

Five to Watch: Post-Hype Prospects for 2014

4

Craig Goldstein

These young players may have lost some of their luster, but they could still offer plenty of fantasy value next year.

Despite the addition of a second wild card in each league, the playoff races aren’t exactly scintillating this year. For many teams, the season is over and it’s time to start evaluating talent. So it goes with fantasy. As we march on toward the end of August, there are many owners who are already looking toward 2014 and can use the remainder of this season to evaluate talent. One of the most important things an out-of-contention owner can do is correctly identify talent that could be undervalued heading into the offseason.

One reliable resource of undervalued talent that I’ve found is those players who are no longer prospects (and thus cannot be kept on a minor-league roster in keeper/dynasty leagues), but who have yet to establish themselves as full-time players or known quantities. In short, they’re post-hype prospects. Obviously, these types of players carry with them significant risk, hence the potential for undervaluing them. The flipside is the potentially huge payoff if they hit, with recent examples including Domonic Brown, Patrick Corbin, Josh Donaldson, and Starling Marte. All of these players flashed at some point or another, but not being able to stash them in a minor-league system hurt their keeper value and they were likely available for less than they should have been.

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June 7, 2013 5:00 am

Five to Watch: Checking in on the Holy Trinity

10

Bret Sayre

Bret looks at the quintet of hurlers that has met the strikeout, walk, and ground-ball benchmarks that generally ensure a pitcher's success.

About a month ago, Russell Carleton talked about pitcher stats and when they stabilize. And now that we’re two months into the season, the time has come where we can look at some of the high-ticket items my eyes drift toward on the stat page without worrying about being distracted by small sample sizes. These performances are real and whether or not they continue, we will always be able to look back upon them through sepia tones and Instagram filters.

If you’ve read my stuff from a previous life, you’ve undoubtedly heard me talk about the Holy Trinity as it comes to starting pitchers. It encompasses the three skills that are most important to the art of pitching: getting strikeouts, reducing walks, and keeping the ball on the ground. Any pitcher who does at least one of these things well can be a major leaguer. Just two of these qualities are enough to be a star, but the pitchers who can do all three are the ones who are special, because they have the largest amount of control over their downside risk.

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April 18, 2013 5:00 am

Five to Watch: Contact Watch!

3

Bret Sayre

These five players could see their values increase or decrease if their early-season contact markers persist.

There are very few things that we know for sure this early in the season. And it’s for that reason that we need to be cognizant of markers that are approaching in the near future and keep an eye out for them. One of the big ones I like to look at throughout April is a player’s developing contact rate. As we know, contact rate does not stabilize until around 150 plate appearances, but we’re nearly halfway there. Today, I’m going to look at five hitters who have put up surprising contact rates, either on the high side or low side. If these players continue on a path to stabilization at these rates, they could be looking at potentially significant changes in their value.

And since I’m feeling particularly optimistic, we’ll start with the players who could see their values rise for this reason:

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March 18, 2013 5:00 am

Five to Watch: The Top Prospect Edition

4

Bret Sayre

A look at five erstwhile top 100 prospects that could have surprising fantasy value in 2013.

While it’s true that spring training statistics are barely worth the internet parchment on which they are printed, spring training performances are another story. Racking up impressive statistics has little to no value to you, the fantasy player, but overall performances beget changes in player roles and confidence (or lack thereof) in player health. And it’s the contextual nature of the performance that is a net positive or negative for a player’s fantasy value in the upcoming season. To paraphrase a modern-day proverb, Rick Porcello doesn’t have to be faster than the bear—he just has to be faster than Drew Smyly to get a fantasy bump for the 2013 season.

This mini-series will focus on players who have a chance to increase or decrease their fantasy values based on their performances during spring training. And we’ll continue today by looking at five more players who have been impact prospects at some point in their careers. Each of these five players, now fighting for fantasy relevance, was once considered one of the top 50 prospects in baseball (some more recently than others), as ranked here at Baseball Prospectus or by Baseball America.

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March 13, 2013 5:00 am

Five to Watch: Drawing Blanks

9

Josh Shepardson

An oft-injured Padres slugger is among the quintet of players Josh is monitoring this week.

Madison Bumgarner

There is a lot to like about Bumgarner, such as his age, strong walk rate, ability to miss bats, home ballpark, and the fact that he's coming off his most successful season in the majors. Not everything is coming up roses for the young left-hander, though: a significant drop in velocity toward the end of 2012 makes the zip on his fastball worth monitoring this spring.

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February 22, 2013 5:00 am

Five to Watch: National League Hitters

5

Bret Sayre

This quintet includes a fragile second baseman, two catchers, and a couple of big whiffers.

While it’s true that spring training statistics are barely worth the internet parchment on which they are printed, spring training performances are another story. Racking up impressive statistics has little to no value to you, the fantasy player, but overall performances beget changes in player roles and confidence (or lack thereof) in player health. And it’s the contextual nature of the performance that is a net positive or negative for a player’s fantasy value in the upcoming season. To paraphrase a modern-day proverb, Rick Porcello doesn’t have to be faster than the bear—he just has to be faster than Drew Smyly to get a fantasy bump for the 2013 season.

This mini-series will focus on players who have a chance to increase or decrease their fantasy values based on their performances during spring training. And we’ll continue today by looking at some National League hitters.

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